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If you’re planning a Round the World (RTW) trip you’re in for a whirlwind adventure before you even leave your home. There’s so much information to consider, it’s really impossible to internalize it and make sense of all the options. My recommendation is to start with the basics:

Imagine yourself having just finished your RTW trip, what do you hope to have accomplished?

  • How long are you comfortable traveling?
  • Where do you want to have gone, and what, for sure, do you want to have seen?
  • Is your purpose just to take time off and see the world, or are you interested in something more (writing a book, filming a documentary)?
  • How much money are you willing to spend, and how much money do you want to have when you return?
  • Do you want to have a blog and if so, what is the purpose (to preserve memories, gather a following, or make money)?

As for us:

  • We were comfortable traveling for 2 years
  • We have aspirations of writing a book and/or producing a film
  • At a minimum we wanted to see as much of Europe and Asia as we could
  • We allocated $50k of our own money to do so
  • We wanted to blog and eventually wanted to earn money from it

It’s imperative to have an answer to these questions in order to plan appropriately. That doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind on the road. Plenty of people decide later on that they want to monetize their blog, for example. The only issue, if there is one, is that if you aren’t setting yourself up for it early, you’ll find yourself in a situation where you need to completely overhaul what you’ve done and in some cases, start from scratch. So envision your travel experience in its entirety and use this as your starting point.

Then there are the logistics – the fixed costs of travel.

No matter how you answered the above questions, there are going to be some logistics that are necessary to figure out. Unfortunately, this can only be a cursory introduction to what is necessary, but at the very least consider this as a dip in the shallow end before you go diving into the deep end.




Let’s talk money. Unless you’re an oil tycoon, money is probably going to be a limiting factor to some extent. You have to have a general idea of what it is going to cost to travel and spend time in every place you’re going. Luckily, people have been there before you, so consider their expenses and make adjustments based on differing travel styles.

A great resource, Price of Travel, has provided backpacker averages for 26 Asian cities and 40 European cities. Also, the website Budget Your Trip was created to help travelers figure out and log their daily costs. Lastly, you can always refer to the powerhouse Lonely Planet where in the practical information section, after entering the country name, you can find some info on the costs.

Overwhelmed already?

Why not make an Excel table? Create a 5 column table – city, country, daily cost, number of days, total cost. Organization is going to be key to going forward and it’s important to build a strong foundation even for the most minute details.

This is the method we used to reach an average daily cost in Asia of $30 pp and $50 in Europe. Do we feel like we can maintain this budget every single day? No, but it provides a sufficient base for the trip and allows us to plan around our savings. With a total of $50K saved we know we can spend 12 months in Asia and 9 months in Europe.


In no particular order we can address weather next. You can’t control the weather, but it’s not a terrible idea to at least have a sense as to when the sun shines in Thailand as opposed to when it rains for a month. For example, in South East Asia the best weather generally is Nov-Feb (though it comes with the highest prices). On the other hand, the summer months bring the annual monsoons so traveling can be difficult if you’re going to off the beaten path places.

As for us, we are starting our trip in Japan in the fall and working our way from South Korea and China into South East Asia. With a month in each country we will be in South East Asia Oct-April. Will we hit the blistering heat and peak temperatures? Yes, but we are minimizing this by getting to Asia right before their peak season starts. Since we’ll be doing a fair amount of traveling from place to place in each country we don’t want to deal with monsoons and flooding preventing us from getting around and shutting us in in one place. During the summer monsoons we will instead head over to the northern parts of Western Europe, where albeit still hot everything will be in bloom and not bone chillingly cold as the winter months are.

This is simply one variant out of many.


Rules And Regulations

This part is no fun because it essentially only covers thing you can’t do (or at the very least are difficult and require extra cash). For some countries, visas need to be processed well in advance and can get expensive (India and China come to mind) for other regions there are no visas but limitations on time spent there (i.e Schengen region – 90 day restriction in most of Europe).

At this point I like to bring up what I call the Month Golden Rule. This basically means if there is anything icky which has to be done, you’re going to want at least a month to do it. Nothing having to do with bureaucracy can ever be accomplished in under a month (ok almost nothing) .

One way we are combating the Schengen area restriction is to split the time up between two trips. Once the initial 90 days are up head over in Eastern Europe or back in Asia, giving India/Nepal or Central Asia some time.

Vaccinations and Medications


Unless you’re interested in becoming a rabid dog – don’t forget these guys and DON’T leave them for the last minute. Say it with me now (and click your heels together three times while doing it):

I will not leave my vaccinations until the last minute.

I will not leave my vaccinations until the last minute.

I will not leave my vaccinations until the last minute.

A fantastic resource for vaccinations is the Center For Disease Control. Go country by country and figure out what is recommended in terms of vaccinations and prescriptions. Couple this with a trip to your local travel clinic and you’ll be good to go. Just remember that some vaccinations are required months in advance and have multiple shots, so you’re going to want to leave yourself as much time as possible.

Tip: In some cases it is possible to get vaccinations abroad, for cheaper, but you have to be very aware of where you are going and when, in order to pull this off.


Ah yes, you have to actually get yourself from place to place. Will you be securing transport as you go or purchasing a RTW ticket for the legs of your trip? If you’re traveling to all the continents in a short time span, the RTW ticket might be a good deal, but if you’re limiting yourself to one area and focusing on overland transport, it’s better to purchase tickets as you go.

The lonely planet Thorn Tree forum has been vital to us in figuring out how to get from point A in the boonies of China to point B up in the mountains of China. There are tons of threads there on any travel topic you can think of and if your question has not been addressed recently or at all you can certainly post it and start a new thread yourself.

For South East Asia specific inquires consult the Travel Fish site and forum. If just looking for a standard 1 or 2 week itinerary check out Frommers country guides. Even if you’re not going to stick with their itinerary it’s good to check out to see what they highlight as the main must sees within a limited time. Lastly, consult the thousands of travel blogs out there, many of which are location specific and offer great content to lose yourself in.


If you’ve made it all the way through you’re aware that there is a lot of work to be done. Don’t worry – you can do it! Moreover, as many travelers will tell you – it’s ok to NOT have it all planned out. There’s lots of fun in figuring things out on the road.

That’s why the word spontaneity exists.

Then again, there are people like us, who literally wish we had been thinking about this a year in advance (as opposed to 6 months). Perhaps we could use a bit more spontaneity in our lives.


Meet the Author

Having spent 2 years in the working world, Dave and Vicky are ready to exchange their briefcases for backpacks, dress shoes for sandals, and beds for sleeping bags. Starting in September they will be embarking on a 2 year journey across Asia and Europe. You can follow along at A Couple Travelers where you’ll find travel reflections, blogging resources and restaurant reviews.  Follow A Couple Travelers on Twitter and Facebook.


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Showing 2 comments
  • Dave

    Thanks Bethaney!

  • amber

    I’ll definitely file this away. Breaking down a mammoth task like planning this sort of trip into manageable sections must be so key – and I think you’ve provided a manageable way to do that.

    Thanks again!

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